It’s beginning to look a lot like (a very different) Christmas – especially for retailers and small businesses whose doors are still closed. But there is nothing like a crisis to bring people together, and it’s heartening to see the effort people have been making to buy Irish, support local businesses, and spread the word about great Irish gifts, ever since we went to Level 5.
There are some fantastically detailed, comprehensive gift lists out there – I’ve seen brilliant ones from bloggers like MagnumLady and BehindGreenEyes, and the newspapers have compiled all sorts of lists too. Twitter, not known for its tidings of comfort and joy, is full of threads on Irish jewellers and Irish food hampers, and in the midst of all *this*, it’s gorgeous.
This is my small contribution – a gift guide with just 11 Irish sellers, but all people or businesses I’ve bought from this year or in the past. So it’s short, but they’re all personal recommendations, and all products I’ve loved.
I bought my husband a “Damien’s Cheese” slate cheese board from Slated last year which was, despite the engraving, really a present for me too. Much cheese has been eaten from this board over the last 12 months, and Slated have beautiful tableware and tea light holders too. I went to school with Tara who, with her husband, runs Slated, and I’m always delighted to support this lovely business.
Ger Holland is a Dublin-based photographer, originally from Galway, and she is frequently asked to photograph at literary events in Ireland and beyond. Unfortunately, since February, most literary events have had to move online, but Ger is selling calendars and prints while we wait for things to open up again. I brought a print of Seville from her earlier this year, and it has pride of place on my dining room wall. Also, Ger is an absolutely second-to-none kind, lovely person.
Emily Rainsford Art
Emily Rainsford is a blogger friend I first met seven years ago, and although I knew she painted, I didn’t realise until last week that her paintings are for sale on Etsy. I fell in love with the painting below when I saw it, ordered it that night, and it arrived a few days later in beautiful packaging. Now all it needs is a beautiful frame. Emily’s original paintings are almost all €55 and would make a perfect gift – or do like me and buy it for yourself!
I only discovered Dublin-based Jam Art Prints very recently (thanks to my sister), and my daughter, who was looking over my shoulder, asked for a print for Christmas. I decided to buy one for my office too, and got this one:
There is a huge variety of prints for sale on the website and delivery was very prompt. I will be back.
I’ve been a fan of MaryK Jewellery for the last few years – an Irish designer selling in local shops (like Halo Glasthule) and online. I’m building a collection!
In my ongoing quest to experiment with new skincare brands and products, I recently tried Kinvara Skincare. I love their oil cleanser and will definitely be back to try more. Quick delivery, lovely packaging, would make a fabulous gift for someone else or just for you…
Irish Whiskey Stone Company
Browsing MagnumLady’s Craft gift guide recently, I spotted Irish Whiskey Stones and decided to buy their Father Ted stone “ice” cubes as a gift (can’t say for who in case he reads this…). They come in a cute little gift box, and are exactly what I’d expected, and there was a little sticker on the envelope saying, “Thanks for supporting my small business”. This year, that’s what it’s all about.
Sheridan’s Cheese Hamper
When my sister’s would-be-wedding-date came around last April, in our first few weeks of lockdown, we wanted to mark it in some way, so sent a Sheridan’s Hamper to her and her fiancé. Sheridans were brilliant to deal with (I needed to change delivery date) and the hamper looked gorgeous. I can’t tell you how it tasted because my sister and her fiancé ate it all themselves – to be fair, we were in deep lockdown and not allowed to see each other. But our weekly grocery shopping treat is Sheridan’s cheese from the counter in Dunnes, so I can definitely recommend. (Especially the chutney.)
Beekon is a honey refresher drink – as they say on their Instagram: Not a beer. Not a cider. Not a wine
No gluten, sulphites or additives. It was founded by someone I know a couple of years ago and it’s been going from strength to strength thanks to her and her partner’s hard work and passion, and in no small part, thanks to how delicious the drinks taste. You can buy Beekon in many supermarkets and off-licences – here is a list of stockists. You can also buy it by the case on the Beekon website. Drink responsibly! PS if you’re interested in buying a case online, Beekon have given me a 10% discount code: OFFICEMUM
I discovered Skellig chocolate recently when we ordered some new doors and on completion of the order, we were given a box of Skellig chocolates. They were incredibly tasty – the joint-best chocolates I’ve ever had (see below for the other) and I considered ordering more doors to get more chocolates, though it’s less expensive to just buy the chocolate directly. Based in Kerry, Skellig have a comprehensive range available to buy online and from these stockists.
My other favourite chocolate is Lir. Disclaimer: Lir sent me a hamper of chocolate two years ago, and I became a loyal (paying) customer as soon as the hamper was gone. Their Salted Caramel Truffles are to die for and their Discovery Collection makes a very pretty and delicious gift.
Books by Irish authors
This final entry on the list isn’t about one particular product or one particular book, but another way to buy Irish is to give someone a book written by an Irish writer. I won’t try to recommend any particular books here as there are too many, and I’m bound to leave someone out, so instead I’ve added a photo of some of the Irish books on my bookshelf in my bedroom – this is just a tiny subset of the books by Irish authors available from any bookshop. Available to order online from Easons, Dubray, Kennys, and many independent bookshops, and available in-store next week when bookshops reopen. Happy shopping!